On your marks, get set–GOGOGO!! Team Sonic Racing is here, so lets hop in the kart, cruise around and see what kind of mischief we can get in with the Blue Blur! Thankfully it’s been 28 years now since Sonic was released–so he’s sure to have a nice and legal driving license, eh?
There’s a few different modes to explore right off the bat, splitting the roads between single and multiplayer options. Multiplayer can be online, or with a local player (big fan of split screen capability). You’ll have your basic Grand Prix, Exhibition (custom races) and other rocks such as Time Trials. Presented is a tidy package with plenty to do right from the start, all painted up with slick menu screens and that classic Sonic colour palette.
View the Team Sonic Racing launch trailer below:
Each racer has their own type of racing class: speed, technique or power. The properties of each are pretty interesting and throw a nice spin on the classic ‘heavyweight/lightweight’ option that most cartoon kart titles give us. Different types have different pros and cons–for example: speed types, such as Sonic or Shadow, are naturally the fastest (as the name would suggest), but can’t take quite the punch the other types can. The big benefit to speed types is how they can produce a temporary force field when coming out of a drift, making any projectiles bounce off. Playing each type and getting a feel for what you as a player might need to use to win, is a great way to customize the experience way before adding any of the other bits and bobs later on.
Basic kart racing mechanics are also on the table here, most notably speed boosts and drifting. Not terribly difficult to pull off, you do have the incentive to drift as often as possible as the duration of the drift powers you up, providing a boost of speed. With all the twists and turns of the tracks, this can be a massive help if properly taken advantage of, not to mention it’s just super plain fun to whip around corners. If you’re a fan of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, you’ll no doubt recognise the slingshot move instantly. Staying in a highlighted path behind a team mate will charge you up and give you a nice boost to go whizzing past. It’s a smart way to work together within your teams and will strengthen the camaraderie as you help each other win races.
Powerups are in the form of Wisps, which are laid about the tracks like your standard item boxes. Some nice variations on the classic power up line-up here: you’ll get rockets, musical notes that work like the Mario Kart inkblots obscuring your opponent’s screen, a Wisp called ‘Void’ which will suck things that surround you like a black hole and other nasty and nice surprises to keep the other racers on their toes. Always a fan of the variety here, but there is a slight learning curve to knowing what every Wisp does. A nice addition to the power up game too: you can hand off what you don’t need to your teammates and in return ask them for a power up if you’re in need. This is a good way to work your positions on the track and if you and your team are really clever, you can find yourself a force to be reckoned with.
The AI in Team Sonic Racing is a bit of a toss up for me. As I was playing this side by side with my eight-year-old, we were both a bit floored by the difficulty that a normal setting put out. You won’t gain much ground between you and your computer opponents and even if you do manage it somehow, the rolls on items are vicious and designed to not only pull you back into formation, but to really take a chunk out of your progress. Too many times to count one of us would get blasted at the finish line, and not only lose one or two positions, but landing my kart easily in a last, or next to last place. Not asking for a breeze of a walk through or anything, but if you’re wanting to win multiplayer, you’re going to have to claw your way to the top with your main threat being a seemingly clever AI that doesn’t quite match to it’s skill level. In the story mode, however, the same difficulty seemed to be taken down a notch and overall I found it to be quite achievable with the races.
The courses are the highlight of the whole Team Sonic Racing experience in my opinion. There’s so much to look at and take in with them–bright and bold colours that fly the banner high in the Sonic franchise are no stranger here. There’s so much going on everywhere you look, that you’re bound to miss details as you burn rubber through each course on your first go. The Sonic universe has never looked better as you drive on through. If you’re anything like me with the attention span of a gnat, you’ll be fighting with yourself to not rubberneck around the place and lose your race!
There’s loads of other neat things too, with the team Ultimate moves and the awesome kart customization. Team Sonic Racing is pretty packed to the brim with activities to keep you busy and having fun. Even with all its flaws and missteps, at its core it’s still a pretty fun racing game. If you’re a fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise–it’s a must have. It’s slick, runs and handles great, and has that shiny Sonic paintjob all over it. If you’re in the business of finding your next Mario Kart, this probably will make your critical eye twitch. Either way, it’s more than worth a look if you’re interested and there’s plenty of fun to be had as you cruise through Sonic’s bright world!
Team Sonic Racing was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: SEGA Developer: Sumo Digital Release Date: 21st May, 2019 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch